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Tortoise sanctuary in danger as fire grows rapidly in Northern California

by Annie Vainshtein, San Francisco Chronicle |

The Shasta County Sheriff’s Office in Northern California has ordered mandatory evacuations for a fast-growing 300-acre wildfire burning in Anderson, the office said Thursday afternoon.

Structures were burning as firefighters fought the vegetation fire that reportedly began at Peter Pan Gulch Road and Olinda Road in Anderson, 10 miles south of Redding, Cal Fire said.

Officials named it the Peter Fire. The fire quadrupled in size in a short period, officials said.

The fire was threatening Tortoise Acres, a rescue organization and sanctuary dedicated to turtles and tortoises in Anderson, said co-owner Katie Hoffman, who told The Chronicle that by the time she left her home – on the same property as the sanctuary – flames were at her back door.

Hoffman expressed grave concern that the more than 100 tortoises at the sanctuary and 200 show pigeons would perish in the fire.

One of the tortoises currently at the sanctuary, Momo, was rescued during the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif., in 2018, Hoffman said.

California climate and weather expert Daniel Swain tweeted that the fire “is another example of a fire in the wildland-urban interface that will likely have a modest final footprint but has the potential to be quite destructive within that footprint, given the number of structures in the path.